The Gulf Today, 9 July 2009
THE UAE Ministry of Environment and Water (MOEW) has urged all industrial establishments in the country to register their activities with the authority in order to obtain Environmental Performance Card (EPC) which will be granted by the ministry this year.
The MOEW strongly recommends all types of industrial operators to register for EPC, as the sustainable environmental strategy of the UAE requires industrial sectors to comply with the requirements stipulated in the federal environmental law for the protection and the development of the environment and its regulations, said a senior MOEW official.
Yahya Ramadan Al Balushi, senior environmental researcher and EPC project manager at the MOEW, told The Gulf Today in an exclusive interview that the Environmental Performance Card is a part of overall environmental management system (EMS) and it has been developed to address various environmental issues happening in the industrial sector.
“The EPC guidelines have been issued to encourage establishments of various industrial operations to obtain the EPC certificate, which will help them reach the desired environmental compliance goals on local, regional and international levels,” he added.
According to him, the EPC is provided upon a set of requirements formulated by the ministry. The industrial establishments should obtain environmental permit from the competent authority, including the submission of a comprehensive study on the environmental impact assessment (EIA) in accordance with article 4 of the federal law.
“The EPC evaluation is based on the geographical location of the facility, as well as the existing services and infrastructures. The establishments should provide a summary of the industrial processes and technologies used, including technical detailed plans and layouts of process stages,” Balushi said.
He noted that the information should include a flow sheet diagram, showing inlets of raw materials and outlets of main products and sub-products as well as wastes generation, liquid discharges and air emissions.
“The environmental performance card will help identify and assess significant environmental risks associated with industrial operations and minimise and prevent their impacts on working and public environment,” he added.
Balushi pointed out: “With the EPC, industries can manage their operations effectively and educate themselves towards the protection of the environment. By implementing the best available and cost-effective control mechanisms and procedures supported by sophisticated technologies, the EPC can prevent pollution efficiently.”
“The EPC criteria suggest industrial operators to publish their environmental policies internally and make employees aware of the policies, besides communicating with the environmental authority concerned. They also will have to measure their green performance through regular environmental audits and assessments of compliance with the eco policies, which are relevant to the environmental legislations and requirements,” he explained.
“To obtain the green performance certificate, the operators should also train their employee in health, safety and environment (HSE) issues and allocate an environmental officer, who is able to coordinate with concerned environmental authorities. The HSE and self-inspection comprehensive manuals should be established to prevent environmental risk impacts in the occupational environment,” noted the EPC project manager.
“Air quality monitoring programme should be carried out in working environment, as well as monitoring system for air pollutants emitted from stationary sources.
Also among the criteria, development of environmental health risk impact strategy with periodic monitoring of different types of pollutants in working environment and implementing biological monitoring system for the employees,” he added.
According to Balushi, integrated waste management programme for waste minimisation, recycling and treatment and ultimate disposal should also be developed.
The sustainability of machineries and equipments should be safeguarded to improve efficiency of industrial processes.
“Fire prevention, adaptation of environmental contingency plan and application of clean production concepts are also must for environmental certificate, in addition to providing with adequate exposure assessment and hazard identification for chemical substances in workplace,” he highlighted.
“The industrial operator shall also meet the requirements demonstrated in the questionnaire designed for preparing Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) report for industrial facility, in accordance with article 5 and 97 of the Federal law,” he said.
The registration form and EPC guidelines are available on the web portal of the ministry www.moew.gov.ae.